Common web design problems for SEO

There are a number of web design solutions that can cause problems for search engine optimization (SEO). Here is a small list of very common problems that designers should be aware of when setting the initial, foundation for a longer-term SEO marketing practice.

  • AJAX based web pages: Ajax is a great technology approach for building interactive websites. By using AJAX, you can preload sets of data and give users a more fluid user experience with navigation, sorting, filtering and more. The downside is that AJAX based websites are difficult for search engines to read and can hinder marketing efforts. It may be worthwhile to incorporate readable, HTML content within your page to help classify that web page content.
  • Flash based websites: Flash can be a hindrance for search engine ranking as well. Google and other search bots have a difficult time digging into Flash content and may entirely ignore your Flash content. Google can index Flash, but the Flash content may be difficult to access for the bots and Flash is entirely ignored by¬† some mobile devices (so far).
  • Broken links are bad for SEO: Broken links are more of a webmaster issue, although, all to often, web designers may have to work with outdated websites and web pages, in which many broken links may be found. Broken links certainly don’t help SEO marketing efforts. We recommend creating a 301 redirect to the updated web pages and updating the links.
  • Password protected web pages or portals: Members Areas for websites or other forms of protected content may be necessary for your business model. However, it is important to note that password protected content areas do not contribute to search ranking. Instead, consider providing content outside the protected area (publicly available) so that search bots can cache it and attribute it to your website.
  • Frames suck: There may be a limited number of cases were you may need to use frames for web design. Try to avoid it. They are old and yucky. In a small number of cases, frames can be used to achieve very remarkable feats however. For example: Facebook programming for custom design content on Pages.
  • Text is important, avoid over-using images: Hey, images on the internet make it interesting. Who would want a text only internet (well, maybe a few people), but for most users, the web is best with images, videos and other media formats. Search engines are based on language and semantic relationships. If you rely too heavily on images, your website might load slowly and be difficult to read for search bots. Consider tagging images and using standard, text content whenever possible.


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Ironpaper is a B2B marketing agency and lead generation agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.